The iconic thatched-roof home of National Dramatic Arts Troupe was re-opened in Goroka on Thursday 18 October with much celebration, theatre performances and cake cutting.
The 37 year old home of the popular Raun Raun Theatre was condemned by health authorities eight years ago.
Designed by architect Paul Frame at Independence, the building has been in a sad state of disrepair before the decision to restore it to its original state. A further 15 years has been added to its active life as a result of the renovation.
Minister for Tourism, Arts & Culture Mr Emil Tammur, who was responsible for directing the renovation work was unable to attend the ceremony due to Parliament duties, however National Cultural Commission Acting Executive Director Steven Enomb Kilanda had the honour of officially opening the restored building.
Mr Kilanda said during the ceremony, “The Raun Raun Theatre building is as old as the country is independent. It is the face of our dramatic arts, the face of our living cultures. It gives me great joy to see it restored to its former glory.”
Minister Tammur’s message for the occasion, conveyed by Mr Kilanda said: “Our Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape has directed Papua New Guineans to take back PNG.”
“That now becomes our direction in tourism, arts and culture.”
“I urge you in this newly renovated building to also renovate and upgrade our programs, our work ethics and our commitment. We must design programs and theatre that bring back our languages, our traditional dances, our unique songs and bring to life our legends and folklore.
“Our cultures should be vibrant, living and dynamic, not dying or dead customary practices. They should be interactive.”
The renovation cost in excess of K300,000 with National Planning providing K200,000 through Public Investment Program funds, the Tourism Promotion Authority providing K100,000 and Friends of Raun Raun Theatre’s Cynthia Leahy providing K16,000. Material and labour was sourced locally.
Mr Kilanda thanked National Planning, TPA and the friends of Raun Raun for their generous support.
He said the work was completed in under six months and congratulated National Dramatic Arts Troupe Director John Doa and his team for the work.
It shows what can be done through innovative and creative thinking.
“Getting money is hard but a good doable proposal will always find a willing ear,” he said.
“That has been my experience. Take the time to do good proposals. Justify well. Get your facts right. Do your financials well.”
“Look beyond the government. There a museums around the world that must have an interest in the things we do here. They have resources. There are foundations that do similar work that we do. There are United Nations agencies dedicated to preservation of the cultural heritage of the world. The major film studios in the world might want to base a major work on location in PNG.
“These sources of potential assistance are just at the end of a Google Search and email. If we can produce vibrant theatre in this country, if we can produce good films and excellent music will not only take back PNG, but we will secure and progress PNG into tomorrow.”
The opening was attended by First Secretary of the Tourism Ministry, Mr Andrew Diu Yamai, Cynthia Leahy, Goroka Show Chairlady Keryn Hargreaves, National Cultural Commission, National Film Institute and other cultural agency heads and singsing groups.